CSP joins MPs in showing solidarity with Colombian trade unionists
Read Lesley Mercer’s report from her visit to Colombia in 2012
The CSP was proud to join MPs and other trade unionists in showing solidarity with Colombian trade unionists at a reception in the House of Commons in April 2014.
Olga Quintero, a Colombian union leader from agricultural workers union FENSUAGRO and leader of the mass civic movement the Patriotic March, told parliamentarians and unions that "we need your eyes on Colombia".
Flanked by four of her colleagues currently visiting the UK, she described the continuing appalling human rights abuses committed against union and human rights activists fighting for better wages and conditions, and for peace in the south American country.
Olga described how bounties had been put on her head and many other leaders of trade unions and the Patriotic March, a Colombian social and political organisation founded in 2012 that has grown to become the largest civil-society organisation in Colombia for decades.
Despite its massive support in its campaign to bring a just end to Colombia's decades-long civil war, the Patriotic March is being stigmatised by state officials and many of its members have been threatened, imprisoned or killed. 78 human rights campaigners and community activists were murdered in 2013, of which 27 members of the Patriotic March, the reception heard.
The reception, organised by Justice for Colombia and supported by Thompsons Solicitors, broadcast a moving audio message from union leader Hugo Ballesteros that was smuggled out from his cell in a maximum security prison where he has been held since leading a wave of strikes in the country last summer.
MPs and trade unionists attending the event, including CSP director Lesley Mercer, gave video solidarity messages that will be used in Colombia to help Olga Quintero and thousands of her colleagues in the country.
Find out how you can respond to Olga's appeal to keep our "eyes on Colombia" by visiting the CSP-affiliated Justice for Colombia website